Wal-Mart Ending Sales of AR-15s

They claim it’s a business decision. You can see an interview with Wal-Mart over at The Firearm Blog. People there seem skeptical that it’s purely a business decision. I can see why people are skeptical, but I’m willing to take them at their word. First, we know that sales of ARs have been off. The Great Gun Rush is over. Second, when I’m in the market for an AR, I’m generally not thinking Wal-Mart. The type of folks who buy guns at Wal-Mart probably aren’t going to be the type to move ARs off the shelf unless there’s another panic. I don’t have difficulty believing this is indeed a business decision, and not due to pressure from anti-gun groups.

28 Responses to “Wal-Mart Ending Sales of AR-15s”

  1. Alien says:

    …when I’m in the market for an AR, I’m generally not thinking Wal-Mart

    With good reason. Wal-Mart has gotten a bad reputation for cheaper versions of well known name brand knives; there’s no reason to believe guns are any different because Wal-Mart is driven to having attractive pricing. Couple years back I looked at an AR-type rifle from (US manufacturer name redacted) available at WM because it was hard to find anywhere, including gun shows; that rifle at WM turned out to be made to a price point by omitting a number of fairly standard features. I doubted (and still do) that that manufacturer made any quality compromises, but by the time I added what was omitted to get the price down the dollars would have been enough more that the WM option wasn’t viable.

    • Jdude says:

      Which rifle and what features were missing?

    • HSR47 says:

      Let me guess: You’re talking about the S&W M&P 15 Sport.

    • Jay352 says:

      They are definitely different.I don’t know if they still do it , but most manufacturers would put a b in the serial number to indicate it was for sale at box stores.The difference in fit and finish and depth of blue can be very significant.I looked at a 10-22 at walmart for 199.00 and then another at a gunshop for 379.00. It didn’t even look like the same gun

      • Sigivald says:

        Well, the 10/22 starts at $289 MSRP; Impact has them for $239 or so.

        For $379, I’d suspect an International (they’re low-volume) or the Sporter fancy model, or the bull-barrel Target.

        That differential is at the factory, not because of WalMart – Ruger doesn’t claim WalMart in their “distributor exclusive” list.

        (The Internet suggests that apart from past exclusives with special stocks or finishes, the 10/22 at WalMart is the same base model you get straight from Ruger.

        WM does do it, as Stuart says, with electronics, definitely.)

    • I have heard that WM does this with electronics also (and probably with everything else in their stores)

  2. MattW says:

    I agree that a business reason is plausible – but details in the TFB interview like the following are what make it sound like the political aspect pushed WM over the edge.

    “Yes, we have also discontinued sales of shotguns with 18 1/2 inch barrels as well as .22 rifles that look like AR15s.”

    “Pretty much any product related to tactical guns and gear will be or has been discontinued.”

    Maybe a business decision, maybe more. Either way I never bought any such products from Wal-Mart so I won’t see much impact.

  3. TS says:

    I raised an eyebrow over the same quotes. Plus they said it’s a “permanent” market driven decision. When is a market driven decision ever permanent?

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t know how much they may have been burnt on their AR gamble. I think I read on Tam’s site they may have been late entrants into the Great Gun Rush, and were perhaps stuck with a lot of panicked priced inventory that they had to sell at a loss.

      I could see if a company had gotten burnt on an experiment in making profit, they might not want to repeat it, and stick to what they know.

  4. rd says:

    At least they are treating their customers and suppliers reasonably well as they exit the business. Compare to Dick’s (appropriately named) Sporting Goods. Customers bought rifles on Black Friday 2012. They panicked after Newtown and decided they did not want to be in the business. To Customers about a week before Christmas, “We cancelled your order and will refund your money, too bad you trusted us.” They also dorked their supplier, “Too bad you trusted us and invested all that money in tooling and material. We don’t want to sell your product, despite our promises and agreements.”

    And half a year later, after the cameras and the anti-gun crowd were gone, the corporation started selling AR-15’s again.

  5. Patrick says:

    I saw only 1-2 AR rifles in the wild at Walmart, and those sat for a while. I don’t know if they sold, but this was at the end of the rush.

    I just don’t think anybody wanted an AR from Walmart.

  6. Bram says:

    Here’s what makes me skeptical – Walmart doesn’t make a public announcement when they decide to sell Tide instead of Cheer detergent – they just do it.

    If it’s a business decision, just do it, don’t publicly brag about it.

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t think they had any plans to make a public announcement until rumors started circulating.

    • AnOregonian says:

      Something that occurred to me today while sending lead down range with my AR, was that the decision to pull the guns may have been a business decision, but odds are that the announcement was almost certainly political.

      After all why not, they can get some ‘good’ press on a hot button issue over a decision they were making anyway.

      • Sebastian says:

        Did they make a statement? I didn’t see that they said anything about it until rumors started circulating and our people started asking questions.

        • AnOregonian says:

          Well all I know is the first I heard of it was when the official confirmation went out.

          Everything else was conjecture on my part. After all if we black rifle buyers aren’t buying their guns there, they aren’t losing our business it’s already gone, so why not release a statement to win points with the SJW crowd?

          • HSR47 says:

            Because the gun-buying public is good at burning heretics, and has a long memory.

            The SJW crowd also largely avoids shopping at Walmart.

            In other words, making a big deal out of this decision had the potential to do more to damage the bottom line than to help it.

  7. Bill says:

    So much hate for the Wal-Mart. I think they sell a decent selection of firearms at a decent price. I bought a DPMS Sportical (no dust cover, front sling, and no sights). It was about $750 2 years ago. It is a decent gun. It goes bang everytime and as least as accurate as my $1,300 Bushmaster. There ammo selection and prices are pretty decent as well. For us folks on a budget, it is our best option.

  8. Roger Wilson says:

    I don’t know what the actual numbers are you will find walmart will drop any product that doesn’t move at a given rate. They don’t worry about stock going out of date. They will dump it before it gets that old.

    • Alien says:

      Roger has it right – retail selling is all about inventory turns – how many times per year or per month can you turn over inventory, because each turn generates profit, and merchandise that doesn’t turn over is dollars stuck on a shelf that could be put to better use stocking something that sells. Retailers make their best guess at what will sell well to their market six or twelve months from now – manufacturing and ordering lead times are routinely that long – and guessing wrong is expensive. Not to mention that guns cost a general retailer more to handle because of the security and record keeping requirements none of their other items have.

      • HSR47 says:

        First, as Sebastian alluded to above, Walmart largely got in at the top of the last market bubble, and never really moved product. On the whole, black rifles are about the slowest selling item in most gun stores these days; Market saturation is such that most gun people already have them, and many of those that didn’t have them picked them up during the last panic. That Walmart took this long to discontinue sales probably says more in favor of them than against them.

        It’s also possible that this decision has been a long time coming, but was delayed due to that nonsense that some of their shareholders tried to pull, and the lawsuit that followed: Walmart didn’t want to appear to cave to their demands, but they also wanted to rid themselves of products that weren’t moving.

        Second: “Not to mention that guns cost a general retailer more to handle because of the security and record keeping requirements none of their other items have.”

        Most Walmart stores in my area have pharmacies, and they’re a lot more serious about inventory security there than they are with guns or ammo.

  9. Will says:

    Tam said that they just want to sell to Fudds.

    The statement I read had the spokesman saying they just want to sell guns and ammo to hunters and target shooters.

    Virtually every product sold by them is specifically made for them. Look for WM in the part# or serial#.

    • HSR47 says:

      When I think to myself “maybe it’s time to buy another AR-15” Walmart is not generally on the list of places I think of going. I’m likely not an anomaly in this regard.

  10. Roger Wilson says:

    The only time I bought a gun at wallmart was in CA a model 70 winchester. A good price synthetic stock. I got a synthetic stock as I was going deer hunting in an area covered with buckthorn. Buckthorn will make a mess out of a stock if you need to go in after a deer. I will say those deer don’t taste as good as the deer I harvest off the family farm in PA.

    • Patrick says:

      Farm deer are milder tasting, we think. We have gotten so many surprised looks when we tell guests they are eating venison, it’s not even cliche anymore. The stuff from far up north is more ‘wild’ tasting. Fewer farm days and more tallow due to the climate, I suspect. We’re much warmer below the Mason-Dixon than the north, so less tallow and “game” taste.

      The farms all around us pretty much feed deer the same stuff humans eat, albeit inadvertently. I tell city guests our venison comes from, “locally-raised, open-pastured, fence-free, all-natural livestock that has been artisanally butchered*”.

      They nod sagely, right before I ask if they want a second helping of ‘Bambi’.

      * artisanally butchered…at the end of my tractor bucket.